The player/judge conference that took place on March 18-18 in Aalborg, Denmark was something new; a “small” event, a trail of possible things to come, and a great way to bring the spread-out Danish judge community closer than ever before (along with a few of our great friends from Northern Germany!).
The Event was crafted by Stefan Holebæk and Ulf Gaarde Simonse, with guidance from Jonas Breindahl (one of the wardens of the north) and was meant to show how smaller conference can bring with them a lot of great experiences and teaching opportunities.
The Venue for the Conference was the awesome home of ‘The Realm of Adventurers’ aka TRoA, a roleplaying association run through memberships and run to promote a fun and awesome environment open for all to come and enjoy. Most of the conference was held in a large second floor room with plenty of space for the conference and associated magic ‘good-stuff’ but on top of that the doors were open to enjoy the spacious gaming areas as well as large board game collection and anything provided, as well as free sleeping quarters for anyone at the conference interested.
A place that just like the Danes (and maybe even Denmark itself) looks a bit grey on the outside but is spacious, warm, and welcoming on the inside.
Being a Smaller conference and something very new, there had been fears for the attendance, but these were quelled by the attendance of 23 people, far most of which being judges. This being compared to the total number of Danish Judges, represents a number equal to almost half the number of total Judges in Denmark! And in this were 4 German Judges traveling up from Germany
A strong showing and an awesome crowd that though, quite a few had never met before quickly bonded and began sharing experiences and ridiculous rules questions (I’m looking at you Panglacial Wurm)
11:00 Intro to the Judge Program, and the Region
12:00 Fakes, a very real problem
15:00 From the GP: Prague. Warning: Contains Fire
16:00 Common FNM Problems workshop
17:00 final statements
18:00 Judge Dinner
21:00? Judge Draft!
A group of people had arrived on Friday, but most took the long drive to Aalborg and arrived around 11am, everything started just about on schedules and people were happy and ready to have an awesome day listening to presentations and maintaining their statues in the cult of self-improvement that is the judge program. Good times were ahead!
11:00 Introduction to the Judge Program and status of the region, by Jonas Breindahl
The day was kicked off with an intro to the judge program intended for the players and potential L1’s in the room, it included of full rundown of the judge program was structured and what resources were available, as well as some of the larger programs running, on such example being the exemplar program. It was short and to the point and also involved a round of questions that were expertly answered by the warden of the North Jonas Breindahl.
11:40: Crossing borders – And interjection from our friends in Germany
Due to the question section of the introduction being shorter than expected the spotlight was given to Max Tiedemann who wanted to share his experience with drawing on the Danish pool of judges for events in Flensburg. He shared his experiences and how the whole program got started and also urged people to come and join, both to help but also to gain some further experience with foreign tournaments and running a tournament in English.
12:00 Fakes, a very real problem – Why they are a problem for the community, and several methods on how to spot them, By Stefan Holebæk
The second planned presentation was a talk about fakes, how to spot them, and how to handle this otherwise quite delicate subject in a tournament setting, like how to tell a guy that his new legacy deck consists of mostly fakes and that he has been scammed. Stefan clearly and competently explained the difference between fakes and proxies, as given out by judges to replace damaged cards, or the ones sometimes used by casual players or for competitive testing. There was a discussion on how to fix issues if fakes are identified, and that it would most likely (unless cheating) fall under a deck list problem.
Stefan quickly ran over the 6 ways to identify fakes which can be summed into two categories, the “don’t do them” and then “use these” categories, as well as where each test came from and why it is/isn’t effective for determining fakes.
- Don’t use:
- Do use:
Once the presentation was done the judges were introduced to a stack of (mostly) fake cards and could use their break time to put their newfound knowledge to the test and just gets a more hands-on feel for fakes in general. Everyone was really interested and there was a crowd around the table for the entire break.
13.00 Shortcuts! – What are they? The philosophy behind them, with extra focus on the combat shortcut, by Ulf Gaarde Simonsen
After a short break for ordering lunch Ulf took to the stage with a re-run of a talk about shortcuts with a more in-depth explanation of the combat shortcut, as it has become quite the hot potato with the ruling at the pro-tour.
The talk also ran through all the tournament shortcuts and what they mean for the game and exactly how they work, as well as a good portion of the normal shortcuts players typically find themselves defining.
Afterwards the judges interacted with a large question and discussion session that included why Goblin Rabblemaster ignores the normal combat shortcut rules, and how set up an infinite loop shortcut.
“All hail our Lord and savior, Tarpan” – The Nordic Judges
15.00 From the GP: Prague – A look at the Grand Prix experience from a judge point of view. Warning: contains fire, By William Tiddi
After lunch it was time for something a bit more standard, but very much not normal.
William Tiddi brought forth a guide to judging at grand prix as well as a quick report on how a tournament runs, but using his experiences from GP Prague which he had attended, and which had become quite the ‘hot’ topic.
He had structured his presentation very well and brought just the right amount of humor to balance the seriousness of what had happened. He taught great lessons in how to handle stressful situations as a judge, and things to look out for, even at a setting not currently on fire.
William ran through the need for good planning, how to set goals(and why you should) the importance of keeping up with changes, and lastly he ended on a note from about how to make something extra out of the opportunity that a grand prix presents, using the example of an awesome Judge that had created his own token to give away to players with information about the judge feedback from, a sadly, largely unknown piece of the judge program that was truly worthy of being brought into the light.
15:50 A short intro to TRoA
As a second interjection Uffe Jensen used the time between the last presentation and the workshop to share some quick information about TRoA as an organization and to spread some of the TRoA love as well as giving some guidance as to how the judges could use the facilities while they were staying at TRoA. Quick, Simple, and Nice.
16.00 Common FNM problems workshop – A deeper look into the more common problems at an FNM presented as a workshop, Jakob Juul Fahnøe & Søren Holm
The workshop was run by Jakob Juul Fahnøe and Søren Holm and was meant to help L1 understand the philosophy behind the JAR, 9 problems were presented, of varying difficulty and some with multi ways to interpret the problem.
The judges were placed into groups with at least one L2 in every group and the players splits out between the groups best possible. The groups were given just over 30minutes to run through the problems and fix them according to the JAR and as if they happened at an FNM. Though it was less than intended but the schedule had gotten pushed slightly and time was tight, it worked great and people had a good amount of dialog.
An example of one of the cases present was as follows:
Player 3 enters the game
Alistar and Nathaniel are playing at a standard FNM.
Alistar is contemplating his first main phase before attacking when a spectator, Benjamin, suggests “You can swing for lethal if you remove his flyer, there’s no removal in those colors that saves him here.”
Nathaniel calls a judge.
Once done all the judges gathered for a discussion on how to fix the cases and what to do, it was quite productive and all of the judges go to interact and share their thoughts and perspective.
17:00 and onwards!
Once the main part of the conference was done and people had clapped, evaluated and some gotten their hands on some wonderful Judge promo’s the people split into two groups. A group going out to judge dinner (Where I myself was located) and a group which stayed behind to enjoy all the drafts that Modern Master 2017 had to offer and to relax after a long day.
After dinner, the dinner judges met back up at TRoA and partook in an awesome 10 man, judge draft! Push-up were awarded for mythics and laughs were a plenty as the judges really got into it and played 4 rounds of awesome magic filled with snapcaster mages, 5 colors multi-color only decks and Return to Ravnica constructed decks (Piloted by Stefan Holebæk himself) and with the awesome day ending, the remaining judges went to bed in the sleeping quarters provided by TRoA, satisfied but tired.
The day 2 of the conference was quite chill, sadly the pptq which had been intended to be held had had to be canceled but in place of it was a modern event. Quite a few of the judge had had to take their respective trains home, either during the evening before or during the morning but the ones that remained relaxed and cheerfully joined in on the modern fun-time, getting to know the local players and having a few final laughs before the end of a great weekend.
The Player/Judge Conference in Aalborg was a tremendous experience, everyone really wanted to be there and to make it work and for it to be the greatest day! The people behind the event were hugely successful in hosting a new small conference and everyone left wanting for more, talking about what they want to do next time and all the new project ideas that they had thought up over the course of the conference.
I myself, will be looking forward to the next time and hope to see the same people, and many more, joining up!